What is a Will and What Does it Do?

Most people know that a Will is a document that a person writes or has written naming the beneficiaries and Executor of his or her estate. Movies tend to make it appear that a Will is simply read in an attorney’s office after a person’s death, and that is the end of it. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. A Will is in essence a letter to a judge and, in almost every case, its only legal purpose is to serve as the voice of the decedent in Probate Court. It directs the judge as to who should be appointed as Executor and how to distribute the assets of the estate, as expected. However, a well drafted Will also instructs the judge as to who should be appointed as the guardian of minor children, whether or not the Executor should be required to post bond, what powers and level of court supervision the Executor should have in administering the estate, and at what age and upon what terms and conditions the assets of the estate should be distributed to the beneficiaries, among other things.